Protecting Your Home Against Wildlife
It is always exciting to spot wildlife outside in its natural environment. The moment they cross the threshold between their outdoor environment and our homes, however, it’s easy to get into trouble.
Keeping wild animals out of your home is always best for both you and the animal. Though wildlife burrows its way into many indoor spaces for shelter and food, your home will never be a sustainable place for them to build a nest and set up shop for the winter. And most importantly, a wild animal can cause extreme damage to a house, leading to structural issues and putting your family at risk of harm.
It is not always possible to remove wildlife from your home without a professional. Animals can carry disease, bacteria, and parasites, and have the ability to inflict powerful harm. Even if you do safely remove them, animals often find them way right back into your space.
We’ll explore the common wild members of the animal family that make their way into homes and the importance of a swift and safe removal by a professional.
Common Wildlife Found in Homes
If you hear the familiar tread of animal footsteps in your walls or in your attic, you could have a common wildlife intruder. Everything from squirrels to skunks seek shelter indoors to build nests or protect themselves from extreme weather.
As much as we want to provide a safe space for animals, it is never ideal for them to stay in your home. As is the case with all wildlife, they can also die once inside your home, leading to strong, harmful odors in your walls or attic. Here are some common wildlife pests as well as the damage they bring with them.
Squirrels and Chipmunks
These common rodents can be found throughout the US, particularly five main species:
- Red squirrel
- Fox squirrel
- Ground squirrel
- Flying squirrel
- Gray squirrel
The majority of squirrels are both excellent climbers and burrowers, making them adept at breaking in through roods, under foundations, and even through eaves. You’ll often find squirrels in your attic after they leap from a nearby tree branch and create an opening in your shingles. Overall, you are more likely to hear squirrels in your house moving around during the day.
Once inside, squirrels can leave dangerous feces, urine, and hair throughout your home. Though they rarely carry diseases easily transferable to humans, squirrels can cause more serious damage to your home and safety. For example, they can:
- Chew through electrical wires
- Chew insulation, shingles, and siding
- Build nests inside your home, leading to an infestation
- Dig holes in your walls and under your foundation
Mice and Rats
The most common type of wildlife pest found indoors are mice and rats. Whether you live in the countryside or the middle of a big city, these resilient creatures can find their way indoors through small spaces.
Both mice and rats are typically attracted by open food in your home or unsecured garbage in your home or yard.
Rats and mice are also known to carry disease in their hair, urine, and feces, and can bite humans on rare occasions. Though it is not common to contract disease from rodents in the US, it is still considered a health risk to have them in your home.
Additionally, mice and rats can:
- Expose and damage electrical wires
- Burrow and chew holes throughout your home
- Leave feces and urine in your living space
- Build nests and reproduce indoors
Primarily found throughout the northern regions of the US, raccoons are shockingly intelligent creatures. Not only can they burrow into your home like small rodents, but they have also been known to break in through vents, attics, and garages. Raccoons are nocturnal, so you will most likely hear them more at night.
Raccoons are also excellent garbage scavengers, so homeowners in raccoon-prone areas are often encouraged to purchase animal-proof cans.
Some of the common threats of raccoons in your home include:
- Spreading parasitic feces
- Heightened risk of rabies which is passed to humans through their saliva
- Can cause damage to wires, insulation, and home entryways
- Known to steal or destroy property
If you’ve never spotted an opossum in real life, you may mistake it for a very large and hideous rat the first time it scurries by. Opossums are often the size of small cats, have gray, white, and black bodies, and a long tale. They are also known for their long snouts and hairless ears.
Opossums do not typically carry disease that can transfer to humans, despite the idea that they commonly carry rabies. Still, opossums carry rare bacteria called leptospirosis that can infect humans, cats, and dogs through their urine and feces.
Similar to the other wildlife on our list, opossums can also:
- Damage insulation and walls in your home
- Dig holes and break siding or shingles
- Leave potent feces and urine throughout your space
It should be noted that opossums do not typically try and bite or attack humans or pets, but they will still defend themselves if handled.
These larger creatures may be excellent at burrowing tunnels outside, but you do not want them doing the same inside your home. Like other animals, groundhogs will only come indoors to find shelter and a place to nest for the winter, but a home is not a safe solution.
Groundhogs do not carry a long list of threats and are typically docile creatures, but you should be aware of the indirect damage they can inflict on your living space, such as:
- Threatening the stability of your yard
- Burrowing through the foundation or into your garage and basement
- Chewing through electrical wires and insulation
- Carrying fleas and ticks into your home, which can carry disease
We all know to avoid skunks outside, but what happens when these potent animals end up in our homes? Skunks will only burrow into your living space when there is an easy entryway and they need a place to build shelter. You may also end up with skunks in your home if they detect pet food.
Besides the obvious threat of being sprayed by a skunk, these burrowing animals can also cause the usual list of damages to your home and safety:
- Spill garbage or break garbage cans
- Chew through electrical wires and insulation
- Damage entryways, eaves, and roofs
- Leave potent droppings throughout your space
- Threaten and spray your pets
Signs of Wildlife In Your Home
Animals may make their way into your living space long before you ever spot them, if you spot them at all. The signs of an animal break-in are far easier to catch, so it’s important to keep an eye out for some common red flags. These include:
- Droppings throughout your home
- Odd smells in walls, closets, crawlspaces, or the attic
- Scampering or animal sounds
- Extreme odor from a dead animal in a hard-to-reach space
- Damaged wired or electrical outlets
- Chewed insulation or drywall
- Broken eaves, shingles, gutters, or rooves
- Strewn garbage in or outside your home
- Nests made of paper or wood chips
- Startled pets
How to Protect Your Home From Wildlife
As we mentioned above, every animal has unique skills to break into your home. Prevention is always the best way to guarantee a pest-free living space, whether you’re worried about mice or groundhogs.
Common Home Entry Points for Animals
Begin by checking out all the typical entryways for wild animals around your home and ensure that they are fortified against possible animal break-ins.
Attic and Eaves
The majority of small animals that live in the trees—such as squirrels, chipmunks, and birds— which use a breach in your roof to come into your home. Check the corners of your roof for loose boards, cracks, or gaps, especially just before the winter when animals are trying to find a place to burrow in cold weather.
It is also important to check these areas just before and after a storm, as this is when the majority of damage occurs on the roof. Animals have the ability to pull apart open cracks in your eaves and make their way into walls and attics this way.
Vents and Turbines
Attic installations such as vents, gables, and wind turbines can balance the temperature and humidity in your home, but small animals can find ways to break through these small spaces when left unchecked. If you have these details in your attic, check your space regularly for signs of scratching, damage, or nesting nearby.
Oven and Dryer Vents
All events leading to the outside of your home should be properly protected from instructors with animal-proof covers. If you’re concerned about animals around the perimeter of your home, or are wondering how some critters got inside in the first place, check these common entryways for openings.
The foundation of your home may include grates, vents, and pipes that help bring water and exhaust out of your home. Check these grates for signs of damage, especially for burrowing creatures like skunks, raccoons, rats, and opossums.
It’s normal to leave the garage door open as we’re working on a project or cleaning out storage. This, however, is the prime opportunity for small animals to find their way into your garage and eventually into your home.
Older garage doors can also lose their strong seal over time, allowing animals to put through the bottom or sides of the garage.
Additional Wildlife Prevention
Even if your home is secure against intruders, animals can still find their way inside if they are desperate for food and shelter. Try a few additional tips for keeping animals outside:
- Install a fence around your home with additional mesh screening underground to protect against burrowers
- Mesh barriers can also be placed around your foundation to protect against wildlife and certain bugs like termites
- Purchase an ultrasonic animal repellent to ward off creatures with high frequencies
- Trim trees and large shrubbery that lead to the entrance of your home
- Keep your kitchen and garbage areas clean to avoid attracting pests
- Clean up pet food after meals
- Keep your garage, screen, and dog doors closed whenever possible
What To Do If You Have an Animal in Your House
We always recommend calling a professional the moment you detect an animal in your home, even if it is small and manageable. It is always safer to avoid the risk of coming in contact with a defensive or diseased wild animal without professional support.
The moment you hear or spot an animal, give it some space and call your local animal control specialist. In the meantime, the animal may be able to leave on its own, especially if it is startled. If it came in through a window or door, leave it open to welcome the animal to escape.
If you are not sure how the animal broke in, check the perimeter of your house for signs of damage in the room, eaves, or foundation. Keep an eye on these openings for the animal escaping on its own.
Though there are store-bought animal traps, attempting to catch and relocate an animal can be dangerous for both you and the animal. Professionals will be able to determine the best way to relocate the animal and its young for minimal harm.
Terminix Wildlife Control Care
Keeping wildlife from your home goes far beyond basic removal. Your local Terminix team can provide emergency care the moment you suspect an animal had found its way inside your home.
Their expert and attentive pest specialists work to identify the animal’s entryway, signs that there are other animals in your space, and the best customized plan to remove it. In addition to safely removing the animal through traps and baits, we will also patch up any entrances created during their stay.
Afterward, depend on the team to re-inspect your home for the extent of your contract. Since animals often attempt to return to their original nesting area, they will repeat the job free of charge if the animal has found its way back inside. With a comprehensive, time-tested plan, you can trust that you will have a safe and pest-free home with just one call.
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